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linz 12-10-2008 05:44 PM

Firm or Soft Shocks...What's the difference?
I was curious to know the difference in the ride or feel of firm vs soft shocks. Firm to me means more of a jarring feeling due to faster dampening effect when going over a bump. Soft would mean less of a jarring feeling, a feeling of floating (sort of) due to a slower dampening effect when goinve over a bump.

Q: Is the above description correct?

Q: Is it possible to have shocks that provide firmness at slow speeds (quick jarring motion in the seat) and then bounce a lot when doing 60 on the highway? These are the symptoms I'm having now on my new 2" lift and shocks installed by Les Schwab. Is the bounce at highway speeds a normal symptom for so called stiffer shocks?

Q: When I do the bounce test on my brand new shocks, the corner bumper bounces more than once but it's subtle. I also hear a hissing sound coming from the shock (no visible oil leak). Is this normal?


linz 12-10-2008 06:39 PM

I found the hissing sound. It's coming from two holes in the boot that fits over the shock. The holes are drilled and look like they're supposed to be there. I guess you experienced folks out there are probably laughing at me now...sorry.

Anyhow, a new symptom: I grabbed onto the mirror and hard top and then pushed and pulled the vehicle into a good lateral wobble. It wasn't hard at all to make it move like this. When I released my grip it still wobbled for at least 3 times (decreasing each time). It just seems unlikely to me that this would be the case....but then again, I've never had a Jeep and never had a lift. The lift is only 2" and it's the type where you put a spacer above the spring.

Your comments are welcome...thanks.

JCS05Rubi 12-10-2008 07:53 PM

3 Bounces after pushing from the corner or the top is about normal for a good shock.

As far as the ride quality, only way to change that is to change the shocks. Lots of good revies for the OME or Rubicon Express shocks

linz 12-10-2008 08:59 PM

firm ride shocks verses soft ride shocks
I just don't know how to judge what will be good for my driving situation. With so many different opinions, some say this is good, some say not, and then there are terms like stiff, firm, or soft... it really seems like there is no way to predict what will work without laying out the $$...trial and error. One thing I can't find anywhere is information on how bouncy the ride should be with different types of kits.

For example: stiff ride = how much bounce?

Maybe I'm oversimplifying something that connot be simplified. Anyhow, thanks again for your advice.


KellyK 12-10-2008 09:52 PM

I threw a set of rancho RS5000's on the rear of my jeep and i do not like them. They seem to feel as if they are so soft that they are giving all the energy to the springs and i end up feeling like i am riding a bull

MOz 12-11-2008 06:53 AM

IMO - the Jeep should have some firmness in ride quality to it if it's your DD but not to the point where you kidneys fall out. Low speed or high speed, the suspension shoud be capable of absorbing road deviations in a positive manner that offer confident control. If you are experiencing negative or neutral control, I'd say you have an issue with your shocks or your springs. In shocks, you get what you pay for. Buy a cheap shock and it will not provide a positive result for you.

I installed the Rubicon Express mono-tube shocks (with their 3.5") springs and I can't overstate how good a combination that offers (on the road and especially off). The ride quality on the road is predictable and offers positive control without excessive jarring or bounce.

just my .02

linz 12-11-2008 09:28 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies; I really appreciate your advice. I did go back to the shop today and hashed it out with the tech there. He took me into the parts store room to show me the difference between shock response levels when they're new out of a box. Wish I could tell you the name brands but I don't remember them...sorry.

First he showed me the "Foam Cell" shocks which are currently mounted on my TJ. The piston could easily be pulled out and pushed into the body with minimal effort. He called this type of movement "SUPER SOFT". He then showed me another shock which he could barely pull the piston out of the body, it was almost maximum resistance and needed every muscle to make it move. He called this type of movement "VERY FIRM".

When visualizing the movement in this manner, it was easy to see how bouncy my TJ is with the "Foam Cell" shocks. It basically gives next to no (zero) resistance to the springs. With some research on foam cell technology, I found on Ford's website a claim to increased bounce when using the foam lining inside the body. Also easy to see was how the really firm (hard to move) shocks would provide a stiff ride, or a ride where you would feel like your teeth were rattling when going over a bump.

But both of these are two extremes, what I need is something in the middle, something that provides the best of both. His answer: Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks. Les Schwab is ordering the Rancho and will install them on my vehicle at no cost. They just want to make me happy. AWESOME!

The ability to adjust the level between firm & soft according to the ride & comfort needed is an excellent option! I see from Rancho's website that they can be equipped with a remote control so that the firmness can be adjusted while in the cab. I don't think he's going the extra $$ for the remote but it sure sounds nice. I'm getting them installed tomorrow and will reply back to the group on how they feel.

Thanks again!


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